Friday, March 03, 2006

Palak Paneer - Cottage cheese in Spinach sauce

When in India, somehow some form of Keerai (greens) would get in my food, atleast twice a week - Palak, Methi, Araikeerai, Mulaikeerai, Ponnanganni, Pulichakeerai (Gongura! yumm), Line Keerai etc etc. After coming to US, the only greens I've been eating regularly are - Palak(Spinach) and Methi leaves(Fenugreek). I've tried Kale once and didnt like it much. Beet greens are yummy with potatoes. And IMHO, mustard leaves suck! :P Punjabi Sarson Ka Saag is yummy but not with the mustard leaves in US. Maybe I havent found a good recipe to use the American greens yet. If you find some recipes, do send them my way.

Spinach/Palak is very healthy. But, there are only so many times you can make Dal Palak. So, We try to add it to our day to day food in soups (check out Lulu's Spinach soup) or dishes like Palak Paratha, Palak Paneer, Aloo Palak, Spinach rice, Spinach raita etc. Some people add it in dosas or adais and some like me, even add it to Omelettes. When we saw paneer in Indian store and when Bee asked if I want to buy them, I decide to try my 'Palak Paneer' recipe on him.

Many of the typical Palak Paneer recipes aren't very healthy. They require us to fry the paneer in oil and add cream or a big dollop of butter to make the sauce thicker and richer. And as I mention in most of my recipes, I'm not a big fan of rich creamy food. No, I don't make a fuss at family gatherings or get-together with friends, but when given a choice, I prefer simple food. And no, I will not compromise on the taste. After a few trial and errors and also using a few tips I learnt from Shwetha (a volunteer friend of mine), I arrived at this following recipe. I've tried it on many friends and have received compliments and requests for this simple recipe. Simplicity works! I'm not a big fan of Paneer. So, Bee gets to eat extra Paneer, when I make this dish and he enjoys it. :) I love this dish (Yep, even without the Paneer part) and I hope you like it, too.

Spinach - 1 big bunch (I used half a packet of organic spinach)
Paneer - 2 oz (storebought or homemade)
Whole Green gram dal - 2-3 tbsp (soaked in water for 4-6 hrs)
Green chillies - 3
Garlic - 2 cloves
Cummin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Olive oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp (former to brown the paneer cubes, later for seasoning)
Salt to taste

Heat oil and roast the cummin seeds. Add the garlic and green chillies and saute for a few mins.. Add palak and green gram and add a cup of water and pressure cook for a whistle or two. Let this cool down. Blend to a fine paste using a blender.

Heat oil in the kadai and brown the paneer pieces, till they reach a golden brown color. Add the blended paste to this and add salt. Let it cook together for a few minutes. Serve it with hot rotis, phulkas or parathas. I served mine with parathas and the dinner was well received.

Note:
1. You can add moong sprouts, instead of soaked moon, for more nutrition.
2. You can use roasted potatoes instead of paneer and call this Aloo Palak or Saagwale Aloo.

19 comments:

BDSN said...

Ur pic looks like iam missing paneer...Well i tried to bake paneer last week and it was all futile...

Kitchenmate said...

Kay: Cool recipe, amma makes same kind with araikeerai, add split moong dal and tomato while pressure cooking and do seasoning with red chillies, she dont add paneer. We have it with rice with a dab of ghee, god.. heavenly :)
Have to make it for my little 1! thanks for recipe!

Meenal Mehta said...

Kay ,

one of my favorites...thanks for sharing ..I put palak paneer on my blog too back in dec last yr

Kay said...

BDSN, the brown ones in the green sauce are paneer pieces ;) My plate has more sauce and it drowned the paneer cubes. You were making paneer or baking? If baking, I think you have to keep it in the oven for very less time to get slightly browned paneer, else it will be very hard.

Thanks Kitchenmate, That's the yummy Keerai masiyal! I love it! I eat it with ghee too.

Thanks Meenal, I'll check out your recipe too.

Kitchenmate said...

yep! keerai masiyal:)

Ashwini said...

mmm an eternal favorite.

BDSN said...

Hey Kay sorry for not being clear..I missed eating paneer..Ofcourse I can see the paneer in there.....Thanks for the baking tip!!

Kay said...

Thanks Ashwini!

Oh BDSN! :) LOL - Gandhi market has paneer... No reason to keep missing something you like.

KrishnaArjuna said...

Kay, great recipe, thanks for sharing.

Diane said...

Have you tried shopping in chinese/east asian markets for mustard greens? I have noticed a distinct difeference between mustard greens sold in western style markets and those sold in chinese markets. I prefer the chinese ones myself. Don't know how "authentic" they are for Punjabi saag, but I make my asaag with 2 parts spinach to one part mustard greens and it tuens out very tasty!

As far as greens I also like amaranth and chard, which are pretty readily available.

Picture looks amazing...mmmmmm....

Garam Masala said...

yum... this dish is one people pleaser yet so simple to put together! I've never tried adding moong dal to thicken. I usually use more spinach and less liquid! Will try your version soon!

Cate said...

This would be a great contribution to next week's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday. Hope to see you there!

Luv2cook said...

Kay:

Been reading your blog since a long time now. Congratulations on your pregnancy and the impending move. Even commented once or twice before. I have a recipe in which I use radish leaves. I will post it the next time I make it. I just started a blog myself and I also added you to my blog roll.

Kay said...

Thanks KA, Diane, GM, sweetnicks and love to cook! :)

Diane, I've been to oriental markets, but can never figure out which greens is what... They have the names written in chinese and I don't have a clue.

GM, the whole green gram idea came from my friend Shwetha. We had a cookout at our place followed by a movie and she made this dish. she said that the green gram makes it thicker and creamier.

Sweetnicks, I'll be there! :)

Thanks Luv2cook! :) Where do you get radish greens? and what do you make with that. I'd love to hear.

Luv2cook said...

Kay:

Thank you so much for adding me to your blog roll. As far as I know, you are the first person to do so..YAY for me!

I will try to post radish dal soon.

Luv2cook

Lulu said...

hi kay,
great to see a healthy recipe for palak paneer. i'm going to try this along with homemade paneer using indira's recipe!

Gini said...

i made paneer and made this dish. I left the spinach just chopped as i done like the pureed spinach.

Kay said...

Luv2cook, my pleasure! will look forward for your recipe! :)

Lulu, I hope you like it. It's yummy.

Gini! How did it go? When I was a kid, I didn't like mashed greens either.. but when I tastes Palak Paneer, I just loved it.

JohnBraun said...

H5LJjG write more, thanks.